A Houston Clinic Responds to the Overturn of Roe v. Wade

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Read the perspectives of the staff at a Houston abortion clinic after the Supreme Court ruled to end the constitutional right to abortion in The New Yorker writer Stephania Taladrid’s article, “Roe’s Final Hours in One of America’s Largest Abortion Clinics,” (June 25, 2022). Look at Meredith Kohut’s chilling photographs of the emotional toll this news took on health providers in the largest clinic in the country’s second most populated state. Under the new law, the Houston Women’s Clinic can no longer legally provide abortions.

“One by one, women were called into the back of the clinic to receive their ultrasounds and counselling sessions, or to await the doctor, who had not yet appeared. A row of stiff wooden chairs where they bided their time faced a framed photograph of Portofino’s cerulean bay. As the women stared at the Italian village, or their phones, a dozen anxious staff members huddled by the front desk. One of the medical assistants placed her phone against a stack of patient files so that her colleagues could see the Supreme Court’s schedule for the day. A nurse started braiding the receptionist’s brightly dyed hair. Ivy’s boss, Sheila, who directs the clinic, had been in touch with lawyers at the A.C.L.U. “’t can come any minute,’ she told her colleagues of the decision, adding with a nervous smile, ‘My sister is trying to distract me. She just sent me an article: ‘How to Stop Dating People Who Are Wrong for You.’ ‘Someone yelled from another room: ‘Send it to me!'”

“Despite the tension, for the next hour, the workers tried to focus on their particular responsibilities, including answering the phone, which rang constantly. The faster they worked, the more patients they could ready to see the doctor, who would either give the eligible women pills to begin a medication abortion or proceed with a surgical one. But at 9:11 a.m., before the doctor had walked through the door and any abortions had commenced, Sheila heard from an A.C.L.U. lawyer. ‘Roe, overturned,’ she said flatly. Ivy, emerging from the lab, hadn’t caught Sheila’s exact words, but she understood them when she saw her hands shaking.”

“For a few seconds, no one said a word. Ivy retreated to an area of the clinic where women’s vitals were taken and a urine sample awaited analysis. Alone, she pressed her fingers to her welling eyes. Other workers wrapped their arms around one another. Confused, one of the patients left her seat and interrupted their silence. ‘Why are y’all crying?’ she asked. Sheila, trying to collect herself, wiped her tears away and turned to the woman and three other patients in the waiting room. ‘Ladies, I’m so sorry to tell you that the law for abortion has been overturned,’ she said. ‘We are not able to perform any abortions at this time, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have an option, O.K.?'”

Read the complete New Yorker article here.


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